Tax Savings

Can My Employer Request My Tax Returns?

There are certain positions, such as armored car driver, FBI agent, or CIA agent, where such an invasive investigation is warranted. However, except in these rare and obvious cases, in the United States, an employer cannot ask you to look at your tax return.

What to do if your employer asking you to verify your income? Some employers prior to making job offer to verify your compensation asking to provide copies of your W-2 form or pay stubs.

It is not widespread practice among employers, but it makes sense to be ready if such request will arise. In some regions it is prohibited from asking. Opposite in other locations, there are no legal guidelines regarding salary information requests.  In case you do not have copies of your W-2 forms then you request from your previous employer or IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

Employer`s request W2s

Why do employers may request W-2 forms? In certain fields like finance and sales employers are more likely to ask for verification, because wages show great difference. As you may know that salaries in field of finance and sales can strongly be affected by bonuses and commissions. For employers a bonuses and commissions are considered as past outstanding performance.

Can an employer ask for income verification?

Locations that prohibit asking about salary

Some countries and states have enacted a legislation that prohibits employers from requesting about past salary of job candidate. Basement form this legal document is wage inequality.  For example in the past women comparing to men has been underpaid in similar jobs. So lawmakers wish to discourage employers from basing salary offers on past wages.

According to UAAW, in 15 states have placed restrictions on requests about past job salaries, including the following: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Vermont, and Washington.

Several other countries, including Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, have regulations regarding candidates for government jobs.

Not all of these laws explicitly mention W-2 as a source of wage information. However, most employers in these states and cities are likely to avoid such requests as it would violate the spirit of the law.

Company Policies Regarding the Release of Information

Generally request past job salary for determining the wage is considered inappropriate human resource practice.  Many companies have adopted policies prohibiting the releasing of confidential information about past or current employees.

What to do if you have received requests for salary information?

Which way to choose for handling this request? Obviously, if you want to get a job, it will be hard for you to refuse the request.

Ask about offer

If you have received a request then ask your employer if they considering making an offer. If answer is no then wait till an offer is pending. At this point, the employer may be sold for your value and more likely to offer an attractive salary.

Ask about salaries for similar jobs.

You can ask from employer the average salaries of similar positions and have an idea about what to expect and tell the employer in case if you expect to be paid like employees in comparable jobs.

Consider benefits and perks.

If your current job has low wage but have compensating items such as stock options , you should mention these factors.

Mention why you are searching for new job

If your current salary is mentioned in salary negotiations, it is appropriate to mention that raising your salary is an important reason why you choose a new job.

How to Get a W-2 From a Previous Employer?

For any reason you do not have copies of W2 forms, you can request your employer for a copy.

Or you can apply to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for copies of W2 forms. The tax return will have information you need.

It is important to be honest

Make sure that you are honest while providing wage information from past job. You do not want be caught in discrepancy.


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